Cornelius Vanderbilt - Business Magnate and Innovator
Cornelius Vanderbilt is an American business magnate who built his fortune in shipping and railroads. He was nicknamed "the Commodore" for his accomplishments. He was also an inventor and helped develop the first computer. In the 19th century, Vanderbilt began investing in a variety of businesses to expand his fortune.
Cornelius Vanderbilt was born into a wealthy family. His father gave him a hundred million dollars and he used that money to build his fortune. He eventually became one of the country's largest steamship operators. But, he also had a reputation as a ruthless businessman. That's why, when he decided to change his focus, he focused on the railroad industry. He created a vast empire, making railroad transportation easier and more efficient.
Expansion into Railroads
After acquiring a large portion of the money in the U.S. at that time, Vanderbilt realized that the future of transportation was on land. He joined the board of directors of the New York & Harlem Railroad in 1857. He also had interests in the steamboat industry and began investing in a rival railroad, the Hudson River Railroad. By 1863, he owned a substantial portion of the HRRR. However, he switched his focus to other industries in 1864 after the stock market began selling short his shares.
The Vanderbilt Fortune
Cornelius Vanderbilt's estate was worth over $100 million at his death in 1877. This made him the richest man in the country during his lifetime. At the time, he was the largest employer in the U.S. and had a personal fortune of over $100 million. His initial fortune came from the shipping business, but later he diversified his investments and ventured into the railroad industry. This led to a great family fortune.
The Railroad Empire
Cornelius Vanderbilt was a prolific businessman who liked to make money. As a result, he built a railroad empire, including the New York and Harlem Railroad and the Hudson River Railroad. His trunk line was the second largest in its day, connecting New York, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia. As a result, his company helped spur growth in many cities in New York.
Expansion of Vanderbilt's Legacy
Cornelius Vanderbilt's family members multiplied his estates into vast real estate and business holdings. His grandson, William K. II, owned mansions on the coast and on Fifth Avenue. The Vanderbilt family enjoyed great wealth and had many other passions in life.
The Vanderbilt Family and Their Concerns
During the 19th century, rapid technological advances enveloped society. As a result, some people gravitated toward traditional religions while others became fascinated with the occult. The Vanderbilt family worried that their father might become a victim of charlatans. So they introduced their patriarch to a distant female cousin. The woman would eventually become his second wife, Frank Armstrong.
Early Life and Accomplishments
Cornelius Vanderbilt was born in Staten Island, as the fourth of nine children. Though he was born into a humble family, he managed to become one of the richest men in the U.S. Treasury by the time of his death. His legacy included a vast property empire. His children were left with enormous mansions and lavish lifestyles. By the time of his death, his estate totaled more than $100 million.
William Henry Vanderbilt - The Successor
In his will, Vanderbilt left most of his fortune to his eldest son, William Henry. After his death, William Henry doubled his father's fortune to $200 million. In addition, William Henry Vanderbilt was generous to the arts. He was a founder of the Metropolitan Opera. But perhaps William Henry Vanderbilt is best remembered for his famous line.
The Vanderbilt Family History
The railroad tycoon was born in Staten Island, New York, and was raised in a Dutch farming family. In 1650, Vanderbilt's great-great-grandfather, Jan Aertson, immigrated to the New World as an indentured servant. Indentured servants were provided transportation to North America and food and shelter during their work years.
Philanthropy and Contributions
Vanderbilt was a visionary who aimed his investments toward the future. He built a consolidated system of railroads between New York City and Chicago. He always remained one step ahead of his competition. During the Civil War, Vanderbilt donated the largest ship to the Union Navy.
A Modest Legacy
Although Vanderbilt's wealth was massive, his intention to leave it to charity was modest. His only extravagance was purchasing racehorses. In 1873, he met Reverend Holland Nimmons McTyeire, a Methodist minister, who asked him to help build a Methodist university in Tennessee. He promised a gift of $1 million.